Mago declaring that he did not know; “Nothing,” said he, “is easier to be known. Have the Romans sent any ambassadors to Hannibal to treat of peace? Have you, in short, ever heard that any mention has been made of peace at Rome?”
On his answering these questions also in the negative: “We have upon our hands then, said he, a war as entire as we had on the day on which Hannibal crossed over into Italy.
There are a great many of us alive now who remember how fluctuating the success was in the former Punic war. At no time did our affairs appear in so prosperous a condition as they did before the consulship of Caius Lutatius and Aulus Posthumius.
In the consulship of Caius Lutatius and Aulus Posthumius we were completely conquered at the islands Aegates. But if now, as well as then, (oh! may the gods avert the omen!) fortune should take any turn, do you hope to obtain that peace when we shall be vanquished which no one is willing to grant now we are victorious.
I have an opinion which I should express if any one should advise with me on the subject of proffering or accepting terms of peace with the enemy; but with respect to the supplies requested [p. 850]
by Mago, I do not think there is any necessity to send them to a victorious army; and I give it as my opinion that they should far less be sent to them, if they are deluding us by groundless and empty hopes.”
But few were influenced by the harangue of Hanno, for both the jealousy which he entertained towards the Barcine family, made him a less weighty authority; and men's minds being taken up with the present exultation, would listen to nothing by which their joy could be made more groundless, but felt convinced, that if they should make a little additional exertion the war might be speedily terminated.
Accordingly a decree of the senate was made with very general approbation, that four thousand Numidians should be sent as a reinforcement to Hannibal, with four hundred elephants and many talents of silver.
Moreover, the dictator was sent forward into Spain with Mago to hire twenty thousand foot and four thousand horse, to recruit the armies in Italy and Spain.